Cruise through picturesque Provence along the Saône and Rhône Rivers while you explore important World Heritage sites, charming villages, and the wine regions of the Rhône Valley and Burgundy.

Starting at: $4,490 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 View of Lyon and the Rhône River  The Roman amphitheater in Arles  The portal of the Romanesque Church of St. Trophime, Arles  Palais des Papes, Avignon  The Pont du Gard  Roman theater, Orange  The Roman Triumphal Arch, Orange  The city of Lyon, along the Rhône River  The Benedictine Abbey of Cluny  The 15th-century Hôtel Dieu, Beaune  Vineyards in Burgundy  Landscape of sunflowers in Provence

A River Cruise of Provence

9 days from $4,490

Cruise through picturesque Provence along the Saône and Rhône Rivers while you explore important World Heritage sites, charming villages, and the wine regions of the Rhône Valley and Burgundy.

or Call 855-330-1542

TOUR UPDATE

Save $250 per person when you book by August 6, 2021!

No single supplement for solo travelers! (Limited availability. Book early to ensure your place.)

Special Air Rates & Services: As part of our special air program, FlexAir, available with this tour, you can choose from a wide variety of flight options. Visit the Tour Details tab and click on "Special Air Rates/Services" drop down. 

Overview

Feel the essence of sun-drenched Provence as you cruise along the Rhône and Saône  Rivers from Lyon north to Chalon-sur-Saone and south to Arles. Trace the history of the Romans in southern France, hear stories of medieval popes, savor Burgundy and Beaujolais wines, and see many World Heritage sites.

Highlights Include

  • Macon and Beaujolais: Explore the regions of the Beaujolais and Maconnais and sample the sought-after wines.
  • Beaune and Burgundy: Marvel at the beauty of the Burgundy wine route and discover Beaune on a walking tour through this typical village known for its famous hospice for the needy.
  • Lyon: Visit this city, known as the gastronomic capital of France. See the city’s historic and cultural highlights including a tour of the Old Town, a World Heritage site.
  • Avignon: Explore the town of Orange or visit the Pont du Gard a Roman aqueduct built in the middle of the first century. Enjoy an escorted tour of the Palace of the Popes one of the world’s finest examples of Gothic architecture.
  • Arles: Tour the city of Arles, a World Heritage site, and explore its famed Roman Arena. It’s here that artist Vincent Van Gogh was inspired and the faithful begin their pilgrimage on the Way of St. James.
  • The Camargue: Travel through the protected marshlands of the Rhone River delta and visit Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, located on the Mediterranean where the Rhone joins the sea.
  • Cotes du Rhone: Explore the landscape, history and culture of the northern Rhone Valley wine country. In the Tain l’Hermitage area visit a cellar or vineyard and enjoy wine tasting.
  • Small Ship Experience: This upscale small river ship features sophisticated staterooms and public spaces, superb amenities, excellent cuisine, and an informal ambiance. See more information about the ship on the Tour Details page. Each voyage will also host other leading cultural and educational institutions, which will add to the excitement and energy of the experience.

2021 Itinerary

Days 1 & 2 — Depart the U.S., Arrive in Marseille, France

Depart the U.S. for Marseille, France. After a morning arrival at Marseille Provence Airport, transfer to Arles and embark the MS Van Gogh. Your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be on board to help with suggestions for independent activities. There is time to relax and settle in. In the early evening, gather for a welcome reception, opening remarks and dinner. (R,D)

Day 3 —Arles and Avignon

A full American-style buffet breakfast will be served each morning during your cruise. A local speaker will offer a talk on The History of Provence and Rhone River. Afterward, enjoy a guided walking tour of Arles considered by many to be an “open-air” museum. You will see the Roman Amphitheatre and Place St. Trophime with its cloister and church that are part of the Arles Route, a pilgrimage route leading to Santiago de Compostela. Continue to the Place du Forum and the Thermae of Constantine. It was here that the Romans built their first bridge across the Rhone River creating a vital overland route between Italy and Spain.

After lunch on board, discover the Petite and Grande Camargue, a nationally designated protected wetland and home to pink flamingos, egrets, herons, and other wading birds. Conclude the afternoon with a visit to the medieval walled town of Aigues-Mortes. Depart Arles and sail for Avignon this evening. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Avignon, Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Viviers

Start the day with a presentation on The Pope’s of Avignon. Afterwards, set out on a guided walking tour of the old town of Avignon. Visit the Palace of the Pope's, a World Heritage Site, testimony to the city's past as the capital of Christianity during the Middle-Ages. The Palace consists of two sections; the Old Palace of Pope Benedict XII and the New Palace of his successor Pope Clement VI. Visit the staterooms, chapels, the Pope's private apartments and the terraces which offer wonderful panoramic views of Avignon and the Rhone river. Return to the ship for lunch.

This afternoon you have a choice of one of the following included tours ashore.

Choice #1 – Orange:  Depart by motor coach for a panoramic tour to the city of Orange where you’ll discover the Roman Triumphal Arch, a symbol of Roman imperial glory. Continue to visit the Antic Theater, one of the best-preserved theaters in the Roman Empire with a stage wall that’s still intact.

Choice #2 - Pont du Gard: Depart by motor coach for the Pont du Gard Aqueduct, a true masterpiece of Roman architecture and engineering. Built as a three-level aqueduct, it carried water across the Gardon River to the city of Nimes. Walk along the aqueduct trail, a two-mile course through a site with numerous viewing points. At the end of our trek, we'll visit the Museum and then return to the ship.

The ship will meet both groups at Chateauneuf-du-Pape to re-board. Later, gather with fellow participants in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for an informal conversation about the day’s discoveries. The ship will sail on to Viviers to dock this evening. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Viviers / La Voulte

Today, personalize your cruise with a selection of included shore tours:

Choice #1Rhone Valley Wines: For those with an interest in French wines, explore the landscape, history, and culture of the northern Rhone Valley wine country with an expert guide. Stop in the town of Tain l’Hermitage a notable wine-producing commune, for a tasting.

Choice #2 - Ardeche Gorges and Vallon Pont d'Arc: Depart the ship by motorcoach to tour an area that abounds with dramatic natural scenery. Marvel at the views of the mountains and deep valleys, dense vegetation, and the ubiquitous granite and basalt rock formations. At the Vallon Pont d'Arc, the River Ardeche has, over eons, cut its way through the rock, creating a huge natural arch. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Lyon

Take your choice of one of the following included shore excursions in Lyon.

Choice #1 – Panoramic Lyon: Discover France’s third largest city, a World Heritage Site known for its haute cuisine as well as historical and architectural landmarks including the Basilica of Notre Dame and Lyon’s Old Quarter. You’ll be fascinated by the unique secret passages and covered walkways called the “traboules” of Lyon.

Choice #2 – Bike Hike through Lyon:  Enjoy a leisurely electric bike ride around the lake in the Parc de la Tete d'Or and along the banks of the Rhone River. You’ll have the opportunity to taste some of the local food products and delicacies in the heart of the Old City. Other highlights include the Place Bellecour, and La Croix-Rousse the leafy former bohemian quarter of the city.

This evening, gather on the top deck as the ship cruises allowing all to enjoy the magic of the lights of the city. Continues cruising toward the town of Macon(B,L,D)

Day 7 — Macon, Cluny Abbey

After docking at Macon, travel to see the Benedictine Cluny Abbey, dedicated to St. Peter and founded in 910 by William of Aquitaine. The abbey is comprised of three churches. At its zenith, it was home to over 10,000 monks.

This evening, join fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for lively conversation. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Chalon sur Saone, Burgundy Region

Today you’ll explore the vineyards of Burgundy. Travel along the Côte de Beaune and through many villages such as Pommard, Puligny, Montrachet and many more. Stop in Beaune for a visit to the famous Hospices. Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune is a former charitable almshouse founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, chancellor of Burgundy. Enjoy a sampling of the renowned local wines.

Return to the ship late in the day and gather for a farewell reception and dinner on board. (B,L,R,D)

Day 9 — Depart for the US

After an early breakfast disembark the ship and transfer to Lyon International Airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

2022 Itinerary

Day 1 — Depart the U.S. for Lyon, France

Depart the U.S. on your transatlantic flight to Lyon, France.

Days 2 — Lyon

Upon arrival at the Lyon–Saint Exupéry Airport you will be met by your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director. Transfer to the MS Amadeus Provence docked in Lyon. Please note: Early arrivals will be transferred to a centrally located hotel. Refreshments will be provided, and your luggage checked. In the early evening, meet fellow travelers at a welcome reception and dinner onboard. The ship departs for Macon this evening. (R,D)

Day 3 — Macon

A full American-style breakfast will be served each morning throughout the cruise. The historic wine regions of the Beaujolais and Maconnais produce some of the finest and most sought-after wines in the world. Enjoy a morning excursion through peaceful vineyards and be taken by the Mediterranean charm of the area. A highlight of your excursion is the visit to a winery where you will gain fascinating insight into the history and production of Burgundy wines. The tour concludes with a wine tasting. Return to the ship in time for lunch. Later in the afternoon, tour the famed Cluny Abbey dedicated to St. Peter. Founded in 910 by William of Aquitaine, the Abbey was built in the Romanesque style and was the world’s largest church until the St. Peter’s Basilica construction in Rome. It is comprised of three churches, built in succession from the 4th to the early 12th century. At its pinnacle, it was home to over 10,000 monks. Return to the ship docked in Macon. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Chalon-sur-Soane / Tornus

This morning, embark on a scenic drive through the Burgundy wine route. Continue along the Côte de Beaune and through many wine-growing villages whose wines were coveted by Henry IV and Louis XV. Afterward, stop in Beaune for a short walking tour and visit to the famous Hotel-Dieu de Beaune, a former charitable almshouse founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, chancellor of Burgundy, as a hospital for the poor. On return to the ship, drive along the Route des Grands Crus, the “Road of Great Wines” one of the oldest and most celebrated wine routes in France. Return to the ship in time for lunch. This afternoon, depart from Chalon-sur-Saône by motor coach to the medieval town of Cormatin. Admire the Château de Cormatin, one of the most opulent castles in Burgundy. Continue to Tournus and visit the medieval church of Saint-Philibert de Tournus, the main surviving building of a former Benedictine abbey. Rejoin the ship in Tournus and enjoy a leisurely evening aboard ship. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Lyon

After an early morning arrival in Lyon, personalize your day with a choice of one of these fascinating included excursions.

Choice #1 – Panoramic Lyon - Discover the bustling city of Lyon, France’s third largest. This World Heritage site is known for its haute cuisine as well as historical and architectural landmarks such as the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere, the Cathedral of St. John and the Palace of Justice. Take a stroll through the Old Quarter and discover the unique secret passages and covered walkways called Traboules and the renowned Roman Theatre.

Choice #2 – “Bike Hike” through Lyon – You’ll be outfitted with a bike and helmet for a leisurely bike ride along the banks of the Saone and Rhone to the Parc de la Tête D'or, or Golden Head Park. Your local guide will provide a narrative about Lyon, its history and people. Admire the views of the Old Town perched on a hilltop, while you remain on an easy cycling route along the riverside. Golden Head Park, landscaped in the 1860s, features a shimmering lake, botanic gardens with greenhouses, rose gardens, and a zoo. You’ll take a break for refreshments at a local café.

Return to the ship for lunch.

Later, meet in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner, an informal gathering with your Smithsonian Journeys Expert to discuss your impressions and discoveries of the trip so far. Continue to cruise south towards historic Avignon. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Avignon

Today, customize your Avignon experience with a choice of one of the following included shore excursions.

Choice #1 - Roman Heritage of Orange - Depart by coach for a panoramic motor coach tour to the city of Orange, located in the Vaucluse Region in the heart of Provence. The town has over 2,000 years of rich history and is known as “The City of Princes.” It is home to two important World Heritage sites. Stand in awe at the legendary Roman Triumphal Arch, a symbol of Roman imperial glory. Continue the tour with a visit to the Antic Theatre, one of the best-preserved ancient Roman theatres that still has an intact stage wall.

Choice #2 – Pont du Gard - Depart the ship for the Pont du Gard, a true masterpiece of ancient architecture and engineering. The Pont du Gard is a 31-mile surviving section of a three-level aqueduct built by the Romans in the middle of the 1st century to carry water across the Gardon River and supply fresh water to the city of Nimes.

Return to the ship where a local speaker will give a presentation on the Popes of Avignon.

Depart the ship for a guided walk through Avignon, a World Heritage site, and known as the “City of Popes.” In 1309 Pope Clement V abandoned Rome and fled to Avignon. Avignon’s lavish Palais des Papes or Palace of the Popes, is a fortress, church and palace all in one and was considered the center of the Christian world during the 14th century. From 1309 to 1377, seven popes resided here in one of the world’s most fascinating examples of Gothic architecture. Visit the Palace, which consists of two parts; the Palais of Pope Benedict XII (1334 - 1342), and the Palais of his successor Pope Clement VI (1342 - 1352). A guide will take you through the state rooms where numerous ceremonies and feasts took place, the chapels, the Pope's private apartments and the terraces that offer wonderful panoramic views of Avignon and the Rhone River. Itinerary Note: It is necessary to climb approximately 500 steps while inside the Pope’s Palace. Another must-see is the Pont d’Avignon, a 12th-century bridge, now in ruin, that once spanned the Rhone. The ship will overnight in Avignon. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Arles / Camargue Nature Park

Arles boasts a rich history. It was founded by the Gauls, who made it their capital. Over many centuries, Arles was home to archbishops, became part of the Kingdom of the Franks and, later, capital of the Kingdom of Burgundy. During a morning city walk, pass ancient Roman sights including the spectacular Roman Arena and many monuments and see why Arles was designated a World Heritage site. The city lured artist Vincent van Gogh, who painted hundreds of works here including Sunflowers and The Yellow House. Stop at the café that served as the model for Van Gogh’s Café Terrace at Night. Keep an eye out for pilgrims who are beginning their walk along the Way of St. James which begins in Arles. See the Church of St. Trophime known for its beautiful Romanesque architecture. In the mid-afternoon, travel to Camargue Nature Park, situated in the Rhone River delta. This protected area is home to an astonishing range of wildlife, including the renowned Camargue bulls and horses and many hundreds of species of birds. You will also visit the historic village of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, located on the Mediterranean where the Rhône joins the sea. Return to the ship where you will enjoy a relaxing evening. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Chateauneuf-du-Rhone / Gorges de l’Ardech

Today you are offered a choice of included excursions.

Choice #1 – Wines of the Cotes du Rhone - Explore the landscape, history and culture of the northern Rhone Valley wine country. In the Tain l’Hermitage area visit a cellar or vineyard and enjoy wine tasting.

Choice #2 – Ardeche Gorge - Depart by motor coach for Gorges de l'Ardeche an area made up of a series of gorges carved by the Ardeche River and locally known as the "European Grand Canyon.” Humans have lived in the area and caves for over 300,000 years and nearly 2,000 caves have been found in the gorge, some of them painted. The canyon runs for nearly 18 miles and is protected and governed by the Reserve Naturelle Gorges de l'Ardeche. One of many notable sites includes the Pont d’Arc, a remarkable natural bridge.

Return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at leisure. This evening gather for a farewell reception and festive dinner as the ship makes its way back to Lyon. (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Lyon

This morning, disembark the ship and transfer to the Lyon-Saint Exupéry International Airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)